Through the pounding rain, a cart was at the top of the hill, and another cart passed by.
She could’ve hopped on the back of one of them, but she was soaked to the skin.
Even in her knee-length dress, the hem of her skirt was soaked.
So, she bent down and wringed it out with her hands.
Finlay ruffled his hair impatiently.
“I heard there was a murder at Lake Rota, did you hear?”
Wasn’t that where Isabelle enjoyed her second date with Russell? It was also a favorite place for picnics in Shadehill.
“People who were passing by mentioned it.”
No answer came back from the blunt Finlay.
“Why do you think they killed him?”
“I don’t know.”
“Was it over a grudge or something? Did they catch the killer?”
“I don’t think they’ve caught him yet.”
“Then he’s out there walking the streets with impunity.
A murder in such a beautiful place.
Not that murderers cared about scenery.
Claire noticed belatedly that Finlay had dark circles under his eyes.
It was obvious he hadn’t slept well.
She looked at Finlay, who was yawning as if his mouth was going tear open.
“Didn’t you sleep last night?”
“Just a little tired.”
Was he saying he didn’t sleep or not? Finlay always spoke in such an unfriendly way, but she knew very well that he was actually a very good friend.
As they chatted for a while, the rain subsided.
“It looks like it’s raining a little less.”
Finlay said as he stuck his palm out of the awning.
“I’d better get going while it’s still light.
I’ll see you later.”
Claire busily pulled the hood of her raincoat up.
It was still dark, but she’d already lost a lot of time.
She didn’t know what Brenda would say about this, but she felt impatient.
Fortunately, as she walked, the rain became less and less frequent, and now it was just a drizzle.
When she arrived at the Lemon House, Drew was cleaning the store, and Brenda was putting wheat bread fresh from the oven next to the muffins that were cooling down.
Claire was devastated to find Drew doing her work.
She hurriedly took off her raincoat and hung it on a hanger on the other side of the kitchen.
She habitually took out her apron, then she noticed her damp dress, and put it back in.
“There’s no need to be in a hurry during such bad weather, it’ll only cause accidents.
If you think it’s dangerous, you don’t have to come out.”
Brenda looked out the window at the wet street.
“On a day like today,” she said, “you can come out after the rain dies down.”
“It’s very kind of you to say so, Boss.”
“That’s the way it should be.
No need to be thankful.”
Brenda replied with a casual tone as she put sheets of cake dough into the oven.
“Sit here, warm yourself up, dry your clothes.”
Brenda dragged a stool in front of the oven.
What a great job, Claire thought as she sat on the stool.
The hot air from the oven was warm.
Drinking the lemon tea that Brenda made, the sound of rain seemed to fall on her ears in a cheerful rhythm.
Depending on the mood, the appreciation of the rain varied this much.
The smell of the baking cake sheets stimulated her sense of smell.
She felt peaceful, so she was humming when Drew came in after cleaning.
She had to clean up.
She couldn’t forget that.
Startled, Claire scrambled to her feet.
“It’s okay, sit down.
You had a hard time getting here.”
“Sorry, I’ve been sitting in the warmth and forgot to clean up.”
“Did you see the paper today? They said a body was found in Lake Rota.”
Drew casually changed the subject as he checked on the cakes baking in the oven.
“I heard from Finlay earlier.
I met him on the way.”
Finlay would sometimes come to the Lemon House to buy pudding, so Drew knew him, too.
He remembered he was one of the few people that Claire talked comfortably with.
Drew handed Claire today’s newspaper.
He recalled Finlay was considered a hard-working man with a sturdy build, although he was rather blunt.
Claire received a newspaper that had traces of wetness around the corners.
She was a little surprised by the hard work of the newspaper delivery man, who was still on the streets even in this weather.
[A Little Boy Found At Rota Lake]
She couldn’t believe it was a little boy.
She didn’t think it was a resentful relationship, but when she considered it a little more, she thought maybe there could be a grudge against the boy’s parents.
Regardless, it was a shame.
What could a little boy have done wrong?
Claire glanced at the article quickly.
Late at night, a boy was found by Lake Rota.
He was only nine years old and his parents saw him fall asleep in bed, but he disappeared soon after.
The following night after he disappeared, he was discovered dead by Lake Rota.
There was no information on how he was killed.
The guard forces were investigating the path the boy used to leave the house, and the gap that was found in the fence surrounding Lake Rota.
They were expressing a strong desire to arrest the criminal as soon as possible by working all-out on the case.
Claire read further down the paper.
It said that Gemma, daughter of Marion, the owner at the Grey Theater, disappeared after she visited the Rome Book Store.
It was reported that Gemma, 15, was wearing a lavender-colored dress and a hat of the same color that day.
There’s a reward if there were any meaningful sightings.
In the photo, Gemma was standing in front of the Gray Theater and smiling.
Since it was a black-and-white photo, the photo was accompanied by an explanation that she had red hair and blue eyes.
Fifteen, an age of curiosity.
It would be nice if it was an episode that would end with a brief escape and a return.
Claire put down the newspaper after she only read one page.
She stood up since the hem of her skirt was almost dry.
Brenda came back and took the cake sheets from the oven.
“I wish someone would come to buy lemon cakes in this weather, however Lemon House can’t go without lemon cakes.”
Brenda let the cake sheets cool, and got to work making the lemon curd.
Claire took the muffins and wheat bread out to the store and organized them on the shelves.
It was raining, and she was worried that the freshly baked bread would get soggy in the damp air.
There were occasional horse-drawn carriages on the street, and a group of law enforcement officers wearing matching raincoats over their black uniforms.
She wondered if they were investigating the murder.
She realized that the killer’s tracks might be washed away by the early morning rain, making it difficult to investigate.
The rain didn’t stop until the afternoon, but as the day progressed, the number of people walking up and down the street increased.
There were quite a few people visiting the Lemon House, so even though it was still early, there was only one muffin left.
Claire put the leftover muffin in with two slices of lemon cake that a customer bought.
Then it was time to go home.
Claire stood in front of Lemon House and looked up at the sky.
She became lost in thought, her eyes went blurry as she stared at the drizzling rain.
Her head told her to stay on track, but her feet wouldn’t leave the ground.
Why was she so scared and unable to muster up the courage to walk like normal?
Feeling pathetic, she sighed and took a strong step forward.
She walked diligently through the waterlogged streets, past the calmly recessed Grey Theater, which was less bustling than usual, as she walked towards the guard headquarters building at the top of the Shadehill.
Finally, she arrived in front of the guard headquarters located near the Crimone Hotel.
She felt a bit intimidated by the sight of the black panther, the symbol of the Shadehill security force painted on the wall.
It felt as if it was staring down at her even though the pupils weren’t drawn and it was just a silhouette.
Claire swallowed dryly and carefully pushed the door open.
Suddenly she was thrown into an unfamiliar space, unfamiliar air, and unfamiliar people, and Claire forgot the purpose for her visit.
“It rained too much last night.
Since it was a dirt road, there would’ve been footprints left, but they must have all been erased.”
“What happened with the Grey theater girl?”
“It seemed like she’s been missing for about a week already.
It looks like they were looking into it through their information network, but they didn’t find anything.
So, they posted a reward, then reported her missing to us.”
“Looks like we’ll be busy for a while.”
While standing at the entrance, she watched the guards talking about various things.
Finally, an employee sitting at the reception desk spoke to Claire.
“Can I help you with something?”
Rainwater dripped from her raincoat and dampened the floor, but it was hard to see how it could dirty a floor that was already soiled by muddy footprints.
Claire ignored the raindrops as she approached the reception desk.
“I’m here to meet Ed.”
“Yes, I just heard Ed, so I don’t know his last name… Well, he said he was an aide to the Chief Constable.”
“Do you have an appointment?”
“Not really… He said he would contact me, but I came to see him first.”
The chubby man made a troubled face and tapped the receptionist desk with his pen.
“When you get a call, come back then.
I don’t know if you know, but we’re very busy with the murder case, and that’s why the aide is currently away.”
“I’m sorry you’re busy.
I’ll come back next time.”
Not even realizing that her brow was wrinkled, Claire’s face finally relaxed.
She saw that today wasn’t the day.
The employee’s voice caught Claire as she turned around.
“Should I tell him you came?”
“No, it’s all right.”
She’d turned away because she didn’t want to take long, and was ready to wave her hand saying it was really okay, when Clive came into her line of sight.
He was walking down the stairs.
She’d been here too long.
She had to hurry up and leave.
Claire moved faster than ever and escaped the building safely.
The rain had stopped in the meantime.
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